In any other given year, this would arguably one of the more peculiar; however, 2016 has been the year of the unexpected. However, after years of delays and interferences, China has finally been given the ‘all clear’ to build a $3 billion copper mine in Afghanistan with the potential for economic prosperity in a deprived region. The weirdest thing of it all is the ‘all clear’ was given by the Taliban… you know, the terrorist group who have been hated by everyone since 2001.
"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan directs all its Mujahideen to help in the security of all national projects that are in the higher interest of Islam and the country," said the Taliban in a November 29th statement, reported CNBC.
The government of Afghanistan have, as expected, rejected any Taliban claim to protecting the site the Mes Aynak site about 40km away from Kabul -- home to the country's largest copper deposit, but also to some of its greatest cultural treasures. "The Taliban never protects projects, and it isn't their job. There is no stake for a terrorist group in the [national] projects," said Javid Faisal, a spokesman for Afghanistan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.
The Taliban have a rich reputation within Afghanistan for burning and destroying an abundance of different infrastructures. Most notably, the Taliban have destroyed Buddhas of Bamiyan, statues that have been standing since the 6th century.
The Chinese state-owned Metallurgical Group Corporation (MGC) actually attained the rights to the site in 2008 but a variety of implications have delayed the start of mining.
To make way for the future mine, the Afghan government has forcibly relocated local villagers who say their human rights have been violated.
"We are all helpless. We don't have a way to fight for our human rights," said Lal Agha, a local village elder whose community has been relocated by the project.
"The government is responsible for creating [the security problems] by grabbing people's lands, beating them up, and humiliating and disrespecting their values," he continued. "It's when people fight back, the government calls them 'Al-Qaeda.'"
Even with all these concerns, the copper mine could also mean economic salvation to a region suffering from abject poverty.
A mine built to extract the 600-ton copper deposit estimated to be worth up to $1 trillion could create 7,000 jobs and inject the Afghan economy with $1.2 billion in revenue.